How to remove stains from leather bag

Leather bags are a wardrobe staple for many people. A quality leather purse or bag can last for years with proper care. However, accidents happen and leather is prone to staining from spills, grease, mold, and more. Thankfully, with the right techniques and products, you can remove stains from leather bags and restore them to pristine condition.

remove stains from leather bag

Introduction to Caring for Leather Bags

Before diving into stain removal, it’s important to understand some basics of leather care.

  • Store leather bags properly when not in use – keep them stuffed and in breathable dust bags away from direct sunlight and humidity.
  • Condition regularly with a leather conditioner to prevent drying and cracking. Apply conditioner gently with a soft cloth.
  • Keep leather away from moisture to prevent stains and warping. Blot wet spills immediately with an absorbent cloth.
  • Use a soft brush and damp cloth to gently clean bag interiors. Avoid harsh chemicals inside the bag.

With regular conditioning and careful use, quality leather will retain its beauty. Accidents do happen though, so it’s good to know stain removal techniques.

How to Remove Common Stains from Leather Bags

There are many stubborn stains that can afflict leather. Here are tips to remove the most common culprits:

Coffee and Tea Stains

Coffee, tea and other beverage spills are common on leather bags. Remove them with:

  • Warm water and mild soap – dilute 4:1
  • White vinegar
  • Soft sponge or cloth
  • Hair dryer


  1. Blot wet spill immediately.
  2. Apply soapy water mix to stain with sponge. Blot area with clean cloth sections.
  3. Dip cloth in 50/50 vinegar water solution. Blot on stain.
  4. Dry stained area thoroughly with cool hair dryer.

Repeat as needed for stubborn stains. The vinegar will break down residue.

Ink Stains

Pen and marker leaks easily stain leather. Remove by:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton pads or balls
  • Medium grit sandpaper
  • Mild soap and water
  • Soft cloth
  • Leather conditioner


  1. Identify ink type if possible – permanent ink will stain worse.
  2. Blot wet spills immediately to prevent spreading.
  3. Apply alcohol to cotton ball. Gently rub on stain until transferred to cotton.
  4. For stubborn stains, gently sand area with medium grit paper.
  5. Wipe sanded area with soap and water dampened cloth.
  6. Rinse with clean damp cloth. Apply leather conditioner.

Be careful not to over-sand leather when removing ink stains.

Grease and Oil Stains

Oily food and cosmetic stains require:

  • Dish soap
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloths
  • Cornstarch or talcum powder
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Leather conditioner


  1. Blot excess grease immediately with clean cloth.
  2. Create thick soap solution. Brush on stain with cloth or soft brush.
  3. Blot with clean cloth sections once sudsy.
  4. Apply cornstarch on stain. Allow to sit 2-3 hours to absorb grease.
  5. Make paste with alcohol, baking soda, and vinegar. Apply on stain.
  6. Once dry, buff paste away with stiff brush.
  7. Condition leather to replace oils lost during cleaning.

Be patient when removing grease stains. Repeated applications of cleaners work best.

Mold and Mildew Stains

If leather gets wet, mold and mildew can develop. Remove with:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Baking soda
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Terry cloth towels


  1. Combine equal parts alcohol and peroxide in ventilated area.
  2. Use brush dipped in solution to gently scrub stains.
  3. Blot excess liquid lifted with terry cloth towels.
  4. Coat stains in baking soda. Mist to activate after 2-3 hours.
  5. once activated, wipe area clean with damp towel.
  6. Stuff bag with towels. Allow to fully dry to kill mold spores.
  7. Condition leather once totally dry.

Thorough drying is crucial to kill mold spores after stain treatment.

Red Wine Stains

Dark red wine can permanently stain leather. Try removing with:

  • White wine
  • Baking soda
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Terry cloth towels


  1. Blot excess wine immediately.
  2. Pour white wine over stain to break down pigment. Blot again.
  3. Coat stain in baking soda for 2-3 hours.
  4. Dab peroxide on stain with towel. Press down firmly for 30 seconds.
  5. Blot with clean towel sections until color transfer stops.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with cool water dampened towel.
  7. Allow leather to fully dry before conditioning.

Swift action with white wine and peroxide can lift even set-in red wine stains.

Berry and Fruit Stains

Like red wine, berry and fruit juices can permanently stain. Remove with:

  • White vinegar
  • Cream of tartar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Terry cloth towel
  • Soft bristle brush


  1. Blot excess staining immediately.
  2. Make paste with 2 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp cream of tartar. Brush onto stain.
  3. Allow paste to sit 2-3 hours then wipe off.
  4. Apply peroxide with clean towel and press down on stain for 30 seconds.
  5. Blot with towel sections until color transfer stops.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with cool water dampened towel.
  7. Allow leather to fully dry before conditioning.

The enzymes in cream of tartar help break down fruit and berry pigments.

Smoke and Fire Damage

For smoke damaged leather try:

  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Terry cloth towels
  • Soft bristle brush


  1. Blot stains gently with alcohol dampened towel.
  2. Make solution of 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts vinegar. Brush on stains.
  3. Blot treated areas with terry cloth towels.
  4. Allow leather to dry fully in open air.
  5. Make baking soda paste. Apply to stained/odorous areas overnight.
  6. Wipe paste away with damp towel. Check for lingering smells.
  7. Condition leather once fully dry.

Gentle abrasion and odor removing pastes can help smoke damaged leather.

Leather Bag Stain Removal Products

Using the right leather cleaning products can make removing stains much easier. Here are some recommended products:

  • Leather Honey Leather Conditioner – Best-selling leather conditioner for moisturizing and protecting leather after cleaning. 8oz bottle costs $17.95.
  • Weiman Leather Wipes – Premoistened wipes with leather conditioners infused. Convenient for spot stain removal. 30 count costs $8.29.
  • Leather Nova Leather Cleaner – Specially designed saddle soap leather cleaner for wiping away dirt, grease, and stains from leather. 8oz bottle costs $12.95.
  • Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit – Bundle with leather cleaner, conditioner, and applicators for full leather restoration. Kit costs $17.99.
  • Meguiar’s Gold Class Leather Cleaner – Effective cleaner from the car care experts at Meguiar’s. Gentle foam lifts stains and dirt. 16oz bottle costs $14.99.
  • Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Leather Conditioner – All-natural leather cream conditioner made with olive oil and beeswax. Softens, penetrates, and protects. 8oz tin costs $17.95.
  • TriNova Leather Conditioner and Restorer – 18oz bottle of premium leather conditioner formulated to moisturize and protect leather. Includes applicator sponge. Costs $19.97.

Using quality leather care products ensures you can gently clean stains while restoring the softness and suppleness of leather items.

Tips for Preventing Leather Bag Stains

While stain removal is possible, prevention is always best when caring for fine leather goods. Here are some useful tips:

  • Store leather bags in protective dust bags or sleeves when not in use.
  • Apply a stain repellent spray like TriNova Leather Protector to create a barrier against stains. 8oz bottle costs $19.97.
  • Ensure pens and ink items are securely capped before placing in your bag. Test any pens before use in a bag.
  • Clean hands thoroughly before handling light colored leather bags, especially after applying lotions, self-tanner, makeup etc.
  • Place delicate leather bags on tables rather than floors to avoid picking up dirt and debris that can scratch or stain the leather.
  • Transfer greasy, sticky, or messy items like lotions or snacks into small zippered bags before placing in a leather purse or tote.
  • Allow leather bags to dry fully before storing if they get exposed to rain or liquids.
  • Blot spills immediately with an absorbent cloth. Avoid rubbing the area to prevent working in stains.

With preventative care, you can keep your leather bags looking beautiful for many years.


Quality leather deserves the effort to gently remove stains and restore its supple texture and shine. With the proper leather care products and techniques, even the most difficult stains can be erased from leather bags, purses, shoes and more. Just be sure to proceed slowly and allow sufficient drying time after cleaning. Then condition and polish to reveal the leather’s original beauty again.

Consistent care and prompt stain removal are the best ways to protect leather investments for the long-term. With some patience and the right products, you can keep your leather items looking pristine for many years of enjoyment and use.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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